I admit. I am not religious. It’s not hard for me to admit, but it’s hard for many people around me to understand. I am, after all, a black female, and studies have revealed black females to be the most religious of all groups of people. So, in a sense, I am a kind of an anomaly.
My irreligious nature makes me social pariah, even among my own friends, all of whom are religious. They’re not devoutly Christian or anything, but they attend church at least three times a month, pray before bed, and pray before dinner, and sometimes lunch. I do none of this. I usually just shut my mouth around them. Having met only one black person who didn’t care for Jehovah, I have been told repeatedly that I was headed to hell. One black man steadfastly walked in the other direction, declaring that he felt sorry for me, when I told him I didn’t care about Jesus, and another black woman asked flat out: “then who helped you to get out of bed this morning?” I would’ve given her some generalized scientific answer, except she was already walking away, with a terrified look on her face, I might add. And, then I had to argue with my own family members about why it’s wrong to have prayers in school. Of course, they just didn’t get it. Jesus was for everybody.
Anyway, a few years ago, I’d boldly say I was an atheist, but to avoid shock and awe, I now say I am a secular humanist,whose eyes are watching the world and not the heavens. My parents don’t understand how I am this way, even though my brother is almost exactly like me.
Unlike many black folk, I wasn’t raised in a church. My paternal grandmother is the only dedicated, churchgoing person in my immediate and extended family. By that, I mean, she attends church like my friends do: three times a month minimum. She’s a well-respected revivalist/Pentecostal Christian, and I remember attending church with her at least twice in my lifetime, and during one occasion, I vividly remember sliding and ruining my Sunday dress in mud; my only Sunday dress. But since this occasion, and maybe one other time when I was nagged by a friend, I have avoided church. I go for special occasions, only–Christening, weddings and funerals.
Unlike my paternal grandmother, my paternal grandfather didn’t attend church, though he wasn’t necessarily opposed to Jesus. My maternal grandparents were the opposite of my paternal ones. They were drinkers, smokers and gamblers (my grandmother quit smoking less than ten years ago). Anyway, my parents and my aunts and uncles grew up church-less, maybe once in a while they attended, but they were never frequenters. Even so, they all claim to be Christian, god-fearing/calling people, but none attend church, really. My own parents quote the Bible all the time, but neither attend church. My father swears he doesn’t care for Jesus, pastors or church, but loves quoting the Bible and denouncing people in the name of god. My mother, like pretty much all the females in my family, loves to sing religious hymns and call on god, but doesn’t attend church.
My older brother and me are interesting. We go through phases. The last five years we went through a Real Hebrews phase, where we got hold of the writings of Shadrock and swore we were the real Jews and we’d abstain from pork (which we never ate anyway), and he’d circumcise his son, which he did. That phase quickly passed. I attended a Nation of Islam meeting, and got scared by how militant it was, and I never went back, but since then we’ve since reverted to our atheistic existence.
Anyway, now I just don’t care about Jesus/Bible. I don’t have too much against them, except I suspect Jesus may not have even been a real person, and if he was, then he likely was not the walking on water, God-man the Bible says he is. And, the Bible is a little too fantastical for me, and digging into its history, you quickly find that it’s been tampered with and it’s not original, despite so many claiming it was inspired by god, whatever this means, since its ideas were not unique to the region it came from.
Some people think I am arrogant for not embracing god and I think they’re arrogant for claiming that they know the anthropomorphic god of the Bible (Jehovah) is real, and that HE (he’s a man, duh!) will pass judgment on me after death. They also accuse me of being Satanic, failing to recognize that Satan and god/Jesus go together like good and evil, and non-belief in one is, by default, non-belief in the other. Satan is a biblical concept, too, duh!
Anyway, I won’t apologize for my lack of faith in Jesus/Christianity. I think the Bible is an interesting and fantastical ancient book, but I can’t take it literally. Frankly, I can understand the appeal the Bible/Christianity has with black people. They need something to have faith in, since the realities of this world seem stacked against them. But, I am not a pacifist. I am realist. I rather deal with the reality than not.